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French press review 30 December 2011

Not much festive cheer in this morning's French papers. The euro is down in the dumps. Taxes are going up. French health care may be poorly. But there are always apéritifs and circuses.

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On its front page, Le Figaro notes that, as it marks its 10th anniversary, the euro is at a 16-month low against the US dollar.

In a front-page editorial, the paper argues that the common currency has failed to keep all its promises. Nonetheless, notwithstanding the chorus of doom-mongers, it appears to be irreplaceable.

Le Figaro manages to find a silver lining in the financial cloud hanging over the eurozone. The European economy will benefit from this competitive devaluation, it says.

In a story headline, "The euro - heads and tails", the Catholic Daily La Croix concludes that after 10 years Europeans - more than 300 million of them - are used to the euro but not enthusiastic about it.

It has become one of the world's leading currencies and in addition to allowing travel from Finland to Greece without having to change money, it has acted as what the paper calls "a protector".

The paradox is that it has also tempted certain countries into financial laxness - that's a polite word for irresponsibility, I think.

The paper does manage to inject a little seasonal joy however, with a front page photo of an acrobatic circus performer propelling herself around the ring in a giant metal hoop.

Inside the paper reports that, with circuses, dramas and operas, there is much on offer to entertain and amuse French children and, one assumes, French adults during the end of year holidays.

The financial daily Les Echos says that despite its undoubted success in delivering financial stability and containing inflation, the euro is facing the worst crisis in its short history.

What's more, in France 1 January will bring multipe tax increases and tougher requirements on pensions.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

L'Humanité, the Communist daily, is equally sceptical about the euro. "Ten years. No party" yells its front page.

On 1 January 2002 the single currency made its appearance with great pomp, the paper says. Today, in the middle of a financial crisis, disillusionment prevails. Inside l'Humanité worries about the currency's impact on democracy.

Aujourd'hui en France reports alarm among insurance companies that the French health care system is at risk. Expenses are rising. Income is stagnating. If nothing is done soon, say insurers, the system will collapse.

On a more cheerful note, a survey undertaken by the popular paper finds that increasing numbers of office workers are celebrating in their offices with their workmates. A glass of wine or two. A handful of nuts.

For those in paid employment, says Aujourd'hui, there are good reasons to toast each other.

Left-leaning Libération finds solace outside France in what it calls the "Year of the Angry".

As proof the paper cites revolutions in the Arab World, the occupy Wall Street movement in the United States and mass demonstrations against austerity in Europe.

In a lavishly illustrated special report, the paper recalls that the year just ending wasn't all doom and gloom.

Le Monde casts its net even wider. Its front page editorial consider the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and what comes next.

Legend has it, says Le Monde, that Kim was able to make rain and ensure good weather.

His young son, Kim Jong-un,- introduced as "the Supreme Leader", doesn't seem to be blessed with the same powers.

Still, the paper notes, nothing has upset a scenario scripted down to the last comma - so far, at least. This is exactly what foreign powers wish for, after having feared the unknown since the elder Kim's death was announced.

Lest we forget, North Korea has massive armed forces and nuclear weapons.

Le Monde suggests that the best hope of keeping the lid on future conflict and ensuring regional peace lies with China.

China's mix of a political dynasty and state capitalism may be a model for North Korea.

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